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News for Middle of July 2005

Report from the Dean's (vice-Principal's) office of Kima International School of Theology

This is an adapted version of my closing report as the interim academic dean of KIST (Kima International School of Theology), Maseno, Kenya. This is a post-secondary theological college with a student body of 110, offering both a bachelors degree and an advanced diploma in Bible and Theology. I have been running the academic programme here since April 2004, and am due to hand-over to a local person on the 1st of August 2005.

I give thanks for the many changes and advances that we have seen since the previous report in February of this year.

Perhaps most significant to myself has been the official appointment of Rev.
Dr. John Ochola to take over the Dean's office from me as from 1st August 2005. This has been a great answer to prayer. John first walked onto the KIST campus as a visitor just a few months ago. Now he is about to take over the running of the academic programme. My experience of working together with him so far is that he is both devoted to Christ and his service, and very much gifted as an administrator.

Other new additions to the KIST academic taskforce include the Collins family including Elaine Collins, who has a Masters level qualification in Library Science. Although also a mother with priorities in rearing her own young family, Elaine is to give us much time as she can to the ongoing development of KIST library resources in her new capacity as head librarian.

Matt Collins is to be closely involved in KIST's financial development.

On the side of faculty, we were very sorry to have lost Mrs. Ong'injo (from the Anglican church), who taught with us for a number of months but has since resigned so as to continue with her studies at Maseno university. Rev.
Philip Owasi, who is a Ph.D candidate at Maseno University (from the PAG
church) has been assisting us in teaching this term, but has declined to continue next term. We had to ask Pastor Ondere to cease teaching last term.
This is because ICI university withdrew his adjunct faculty status as they were no longer able to accept faculty without MA level of qualifications or above.

We are expecting Dr. Johnson Kitetu to assist us in teaching on a part-time basis as from the September term. This will be in addition to his major responsibilities in developing the KIST research and extension programme.
Kitetu comes to us with the experience of having worked with the previous Africa Regional Director of Global Ministries in Nairobi, Don Riley, in addition to other varied work and educational experiences.

Rev. Obwoge has this term been at Oxford Centre for Mission Studies, from which we are hearing encouraging reports about his progress on his Ph.D. He is due to be back and teaching ¾ time as from September 2005. Rev. Kiboi has decided to move his studies from Oxford to Maseno, and plans to be studying full time, but locally based. Pastor. Daniel Mdobi has now also registered onto a Ph.D. at Maseno University. He began his studies there in January this year and is working part-time, while also teaching two classes and continuing with many of his Campus Pastor responsibilities here at KIST. Jim Harries continues in his Ph.D. programme with Birmingham University in the UK, and has been told that he may be permitted to hand in his thesis from 1st December 2005.

Mrs. Rebecca Pierce has been on furlough this last term but is due back at KIST in September. Jim Harries is due to be gone from next month until the start of next year. This has been planned so that he be back for the period during which the Principal will be away, from January of next year. The Collins' may also help in teaching part time, although no definite plans have been made at this stage as they are still adjusting to life in Kenya.

Pa. Obed Okech is due to be off-campus for two years, as he begins a Masters programme related to communications (and especially the work connected to the KIST studio) in September of this year based in Nairobi. With the approval of the Board, Jotham Obura will be taking his place on the faculty.
One of this year's graduates has been asked to become student teacher for the next academic year.

KIST students continue to benefit from the presence of the computer centre, now with professional teachers, here on campus. All students are given the option of taking courses that will give them basic computing competence in a variety of software packages in addition to their regular KIST studies.

Moves are now beginning to be made towards accreditation of KIST. (It should be understood that our agreement with ICI (Global) university has been to accredit the BA course itself, and not to accredit KIST as an institution.) It is early days in what will be a major process, that promises to raise the status of KIST and enable us in due course to offer our own Diplomas and Degrees. While very much in its early stages, this process will necessitate a number of changes and considerable efforts and dedication from all concerned.

Our partnership with AICMAR (African Institute for Contemporary Mission and Research, based near Butere, mentioned in my report in February) continues to progress. We have now had three of their staff present Maarifa Lectures to our students and faculty. This link has promise for great fruitfulness in the future. KIST faculty is encouraged to attend AICMAR functions. (Short courses for in-service training in theology and mission, especially at Post-Graduate level, at Butere.)

The two Maarifa lecturers who came to KIST this term both presented highly valued messages. This programme continues, with on average four visiting lecturers invited termly, resulting in two or three lectures per term. The papers left for us by these lecturers are added to the African Literature Profile section of the KIST library. This is an increasingly valuable and steadily growing local resource base.

KIST remains heavily indebted to the rest of the faculty so far not specifically mentioned in this report. They include Matthews Abijah (part-time, also assistant librarian), Rev. Lew Goodrick (part-time), Mrs.
Adava Makokha (part-time), Hezekiah Obwoge (part-time and temporary, this term only), Fred Okello (student teacher) and Moses Siboi (full time). Each of these adds to the great variety of skills and backgrounds contributing to the total educational experience offered at KIST.

We are this year to graduate 20 students. This reduced number is a reflection of the slightly lower intakes occurring in the years when these students began their studies. Eight of these are on the BA programme, and
12 on the Advanced Diploma programme. The total number of KIST students in the May to July term of 2005, excluding those on the extension programme, is 111.

The KIST Chapel programme continues to be a vital part of KIST's spiritual identity, an invaluable environment for practice of ministerial gifts, and an ongoing contribution to the spiritual growth of both faculty and students in their walk with Christ. The same can be said of the CMIA (Christian Ministry in Action) programme, in which all of our students have regular commitments to churches and ministries outside of KIST.

Curricula changes over the last year include the following:
i. The replacement of Old Testament Biblical Theology with Psalms on the BA programme.
ii. The introduction of a new course Bible and Missions, which has strengthened KIST's mission focus considerably, again for the BA.
iii. Greek / Hebrew instruction was introduced, but could not be continued through lack of qualified teaching personnel.

The other encouraging development in recent years, has been the reliability of outside visitors to KIST. In the case both of Maarifa Lecturers, and those visitors who assist in classroom teaching, we have noted a renewed seriousness in their approach to KIST reflected in their keeping their word to attend punctually to sessions when invited. Our policy of engaging visitors in their own languages (via translation) has been a great aid in overcoming their apprehensions of an international academic institution such as ours. This enhanced relationship with visitors also reflects the wider improvement that we are noting in relations between KIST and the Church of God East Africa (Kenya). We are very grateful to all the 'outsiders' who take their time to come to share and teach here at KIST.

Jim Harries
Interim Academic Dean of KIST (up to 1st August 2005)